It seems fitting that Greed Corp HD should launch on the iPad in the week the world’s population (apparently) hit 7 billion, a staggering (and quite frightening) number when it comes to what may happen to the world’s resources in the future.
Hopefully, that future won’t be quite as bleak as Greed Corp HD’s world, which sees four rival groups so desperate for resources that they end up ripping the very ground from underneath them to keep their machines running.
Originally an Xbox Live Arcade title, Invictus and Vanguard Games’s strategy-cum-boardgame title feels more at home on the touchscreen than in the sedate setting of home consoles, with a control scheme that’s intuitive and a level of strategy that suits quick bouts of play.
It’s not a completely pure sample of strategic metal, but Greed Corp HD has enough gold in its gameplay to make it well worth checking out.
Hill, valley - what's the difference?
Each map, in both single-player and multiplayer, starts off with two to four separate groups (each with its own design of machines) spread out across a small selection of the available land, divided up into hexagons of various heights.
Placing down harvesters on these owned hexes produces extra gold on your turn, while moving your ‘walker’ robots onto unoccupied squares claims extra territory for your team (Freemen, Pirates, Empire, or Cartel)
Harvesters may create wealth for you to spend on building barracks, cannons, or powerful flying transports, but they also send every hex of land around them down one step in height every time the turn begins.
Should a hex fall down too far, it breaks and crumbles into the abyss, taking anything sitting on top of it. Any adjacent ‘cracked’ land is similarly affected.
There will be blood
This mechanic isn’t just an excuse to look cool (although watching the previously solid continent break off into separate islands is pretty cool, I have to admit).
Those with more sneaky genes in their body than most can naughtily place ‘suicide’ harvesters near enemy territory, which can either be prematurely detonated (damaging everything around them) or deliberately left to fall into enemy hands.
After all, there’s not much point of having money when the last hex of land just collapsed under you.
While the game is extremely simple to pick up, strategic choices like the ‘suicidal harvester’ make each stage of play far more involving than the somewhat washed-out graphics suggest.
This ease of play is helped tremendously by a touchscreen control scheme that’s both easy to use and foolproof.A little bit greedy
A very meaty single-player campaign (or rather, four campaigns) doesn’t develop much over the course of the thirty or so missions, but it provides several hours of tough and fun strategising.
But, it's in the multiplayer where Greed Corp HD really shines, its quick matches lending themselves well to online play.
It’s a real shame that more players aren’t around, however, as most of our attempts at getting a game going were met with an eerie silence.
At least there's the option of playing up to four players around the same machine, with AI filling (or not) in the empty slots.
Still, it feels almost greedy to demand more people to take part when there’s so much high-quality content available for the solo player, especially when the price is so much lower than the Xbox original.